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From the Archive
September 2002 Review
Something for everyone this time, I think! Beginning with new issues, although fewer than 300 people live on the remote Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific, cats are clearly alive and well there and four of them have just been featured on stamps. Their names are Simba Christian, Miti Christian, Nala Brown and Alicat Pulan, the first- and last-named being also on the miniature sheet (MS). This is a really delightful set.
Remaining in the southern hemisphere, the rather larger island nation of Palau issued The Wonderful World of Pets in March; a sheetlet of six plus an MS show cats. The MS, with a British Shorthair, is pictured (left). Then in June New Zealand's children's book festival was marked by a sheetlet of ten colourful paintings by named children. The splendid black cat peering through a plant (right) was painted by Jayne Rodgers of Salford School and is named 'Scarface Claw'. Another stamp showing a beast with the same name is not, I think, a cat, as it has six legs and I imagine is intended to be a bug.
Also in March, Poland gave us a nice set of four portraying cats, dogs and their wild relatives. A tabby cat and kittens, and a Labrador and pups, were accompanied by their lynx and wolf cousins. An imaginative idea, successfully realised.
Mozambique offered a sheetlet of six uncluttered cat portraits, apparently paintings, entitled The Marvellous World of Cats and including La Perm, a long-haired Rex type developed from a farm cat mutation. The MS here shows a rangy, elegant chestnut Oriental longhair.
A long Maldives set of four singles, two sheetlets of six (more cats in margins) and an MS of a Cornish Rex blue mackerel tabby is also called The Wonderful World of Pets. All are pleasant enough, if maybe in the 'this has been done before' genre. Illustrated is a Siamese Sealpoint on one of the single stamps.
A cats set of six plus an MS has appeared annually since 1997 from Cambodia. The 2001 effort has both head and full portraits of named breeds on each stamp, and an MS showing an Egyptian Mau. Pictured here (left) is a Singapura. Another set of six from the same country has come to light, dated 2000 and featuring children's fairy tales. The colourful and nicely produced group includes the tale of Pinocchio and shows the puppet and the cat from the story (right).
Stamps marking diverse occasions have come recently from Åland, India and Macau. Åland is an autonomous group of numerous islands administratively forming part of Finland, and early in 2002 issued a single stamp for Canute's Day. Celebrated on 13 January, this festival marks the definitive end of the Christmas season in Scandinavian countries. The stamp shows a jolly family gathering with dressed-up children, a Christmas tree and a tabby cat getting a stroke.
India's stamp from October 2001 (right) marked something quite different: Global Iodine Deficiency Day. A colourful stamp shows a grocer selling iodised salt to a customer at his stall, which has a grey cat sitting on the roof.
Macau, like Hong Kong, is now returned to China, but continues to issue its own stamps. A miniature sheet (left) has been released recently depicting a busy scene at the Tou-Tei Festival. Tou-Tei is the Chinese Earth God, believed to exist everywhere; his festival is in March and centres on the Pou Tai Un temple with two cats greeting each other on the roof.
My final selection this month includes a splendid MS from Madagascar, forming part of a History of Cinema issue of which I have seen only this. But here is James Bond! Pictured are Sophie Marceau, Pierce Brosnan on a motorbike, Roger Moore, an Aston-Martin, and a young Sean Connery holding a white Persian cat. (I always thought it was the villain who had the cat, but not here, apparently!)
The annual Netherlands child welfare issue from November 2001 was a sheetlet of six entitled Children and Computers. I believe it shows the progress of a letter through a computerised system from posting to delivery, although I confess I found it a little hard to interpret. Anyway, there are little cat figures throughout; whether they are kids dressed up, or computer figures, is unclear to me.
Lastly, at the excellent London Thematica stamp show and fair in June I usually find one or two surprises. This year's included an MS from a long series issued in early 2001 by The Gambia, commemorating the bicentenary of Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. It shows 'The Fall of Man' (i.e. Adam and Eve) by Cornelis van Haarlem, and there is a cat near their feet. Perhaps that's a good place to end this review.
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Our featured feline Chico (see head of the page) belonged to a lady in the Swiss village of Chesières who lived near the ground-floor office where I worked in the mid-1980s. Every so often he liked to pass by, spend a little time with us and check we were doing everything properly.
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Article written and first published during 2002: reproduced here by the author from August 2004